A reader writes: “I have a marble area in my home that is approximately 16’ x 15’ and is 29 years old. I have tried wax, vinegar, dish wash detergent, paint thinner and even had a professional apply a seal coating to no avail. How can I remove the old wax and coatings so that I can have clean, shiny floor?”

As we discussed your situation it appears that the white/gray marble is showing some wear as well as reacting to some of the processes you have used. I will first make some general suggestions but cannot give more specific guidance without a lot more information. My first caution is to use extreme care in using a mixture of chemicals to treat this floor. Not only can you do damage to the floor but you could also injure yourself and others. As you may know, marble is very sensitive to acid type products such as vinegar. Mixing vinegar and other products such as ammonia or TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) found in many abrasive cleaning products can be dangerous. Unless you know what you are doing use one product at a time (mixing only with water if label dictates to do so) in a small test area. Rinse the area and allow to dry before attempting another test chemical. Although the old finish (wax) you applied may have protected the marble some I suggest you not use anything else acidic on the floor. A razor blade should scrape up some good samples.

One way of determining whether the finish is water based or a petroleum based seal, you can scrape up some in a corner and see if it dissolves in a mix of sudsy ammonia and water. If it does not then it may be a solvent based seal that will be much more difficult to remove. If the floor finish (wax) is a water based mop on floor finish, you should be able to remove it with a mild mix of sudsy ammonia, warm water and dish detergent. Once the floor is clean you may be able to apply the appropriate products to protect as well as get a shine. Removing the petroleum based seal will be much more difficult and should be performed by a professional. I do not recommend you use paint thinner on the floor.

Check with your local janitor supply house or even a big box hardware store for guidance on how to proceed safely. Take a few pictures and a scraping of the finish with you so they can help determine what is on the floor now.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.